Lily was the first wombat that I raised from joey until release back into the wild. You might start thinking that all these wombats (Elsie, Barney and Henry who appear elsewhere in my Blog) are alike but nothing could be further from the truth! Yes, wombats in care demonstrate similar protective behaviors – the running, the jumping and the ‘donkey kicks’ but their personalities are so different!
Lily arrived in care after her mum was hit and killed by a car. The driver found Lily in mum’s pouch, carefully removed her and delivered her to us. Lily was nearly six months old, weighing nearly two kilos.
Lily was easy from day one! So different from the other wombats (Henry, Elsie and Barney). Although Lily had nearly six months with mum, she accepted the bottle and was easy to feed. She didn’t sustain any injuries when mum was hit by the car. There was no mange or ticks on her. She just settled into care and thrived.
Lily grew so fast!
Lily wanted to do what she wanted, when she wanted!
The only thing I noticed with Lily was her tantrums! If her bottle wasn’t ready fast enough – she’d throw a tantrum and throw herself on the floor!
Lily also didn’t think much of outdoors! She liked being inside where everything was soft, warm and clean! The outdoors didn’t appeal to her much!
Lily loved being fed and she loved cuddles! She also loved Christmas!
But playtime wasn’t easy – the bigger Lily grew – the rougher she became! If you read my blog about Elsie and Barney you will see that their ‘play’ is directed at each other. Wombats in the wild only have a single joey – but a stocky 40 kilo block of wombat can stand the brute force of their young! I, however, bruise like a peach and those teeth are sharp! The play attacks we sustain as carers is another reason why we pair joeys up so they learn to play together and we can protect ourselves!
But Lily eventually adjusted to outdoor life. She eventually settled into her outdoor enclosure and burrow. But she still loved my company and many hours would be spent with us playing and sitting outside.
When Lily was around 17 months old and weighing over 16 kilos she was ready to be released. She was contented living in her outdoor enclosure but I noticed that when she heard a noise outside her enclosure she would come out running and growling! This behaviour told me that she had developed the necessary protective skills to survive in the wild. It was time to be released back into the wild!
A beautiful spot was found in a national park off a fire trail which was far from roads and with no access allowed to members of the public. We drove Lily out there and met the ranger. The plan was to show Lily the area and make a few trips out there, back and forth over several weeks to let her become accustomed to the area. That was the plan!
We spent ages in the area – walking Lily down to her beautiful creek and showing her a choice of 4 beautiful empty burrows. She had the choice of some prime real estate! What a beautiful spot!
Then after going in and out of each of the four burrows, Lily selected the one she liked the most. She quickly started excavating the entrance and making it her own! After a while it was time to head home. I called Lily, she came out of her burrow, stood at the entrance and looked at me…… This is a wombat, a spoiled wombat, that followed me everywhere for months and months and months! I thought we’d make several more trips out to the national park to prepare her…. but no! Lily stood at ‘her’ new burrow and watched me walk away. She didn’t flinch, she didn’t follow, she just watched. I turned from a distance and waited….she retreated back into her burrow… I turned and walked away….
I even waited in the car…. would she come looking for me..? She never did. She was ready for her life in the wild. ❤️
Well I’m happy to say that a couple of months later the ranger told me that he had seen Lily walking around near her burrow – she looked fat and healthy. So she made it! She adjusted to life in the wild and thrived. That’s the best outcome! It’s what wildlife carers work so hard to achieve! As for me, depression hit. I found the release hard – over a year of dedication to this wombat and to suddenly have an empty house and garden felt really strange. I felt pretty flat for weeks.
Thank you Lily for the memories! ACT Wildlife taught me how to be a carer – Lily taught me how to be a wombat mum!!
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